Elis interview, dry cleaners find work

By all accounts, the on-campus job interview season is a stressful period in the lives of Yale undergraduates — the pressure, the uncertainty, the need to be constantly well-groomed.

Dry cleaning services in New Haven have been in high demand during the opening months of the year, as Yale undergraduates seeking full-time jobs or summer internships pay regular visits to the UCS offices for advice and interviews. Indeed, as the UCS e-mails suggest, it appears students are trying to “dress to impress.” But not every cleaning business is feeling the love.

Ho Hwang, the owner of Blue Jay Cleaners on Broadway, explained that sales increased by 20 percent during the month of January, as many Yalies were in dire need of clean suits and dresses before their interviews at the UCS.

“Normally, people ask for the wash and fold service, or bring their comforters and blankets to be cleaned,” Hwang said. “But this past month, we also had many suits and shirts.”

Hwang said approximately 75 percent of Blue Jay Cleaners’ customers were from the Yale community — professors, staff and students alike.

Every student interviewed said dry cleaners offered an efficient and high-quality solution to the laundry problem.

“I use the dry cleaning service for my button-down shirts because the washing machines and dryers in the colleges often end up treating the fabric too harshly,” Levent Tuzun ’11 said. “Plus, I save time as the service includes starching and ironing.”

Maria Gutierrez, the owner of Howe Laundromat and Dry Cleaning on Howe Street, agreed that the wash-dry-fold service is the most popular among Yale students and faculty. But this year’s interview season failed to achieve its usual positive effect on her business. What increase in sales the laundromat saw, Gutierrez said, were matched by the slowing economy.

“Not that many people brought suits this year,” Gutierrez said, “and sales went up only slightly.”

She also noted that her business has been severely affected by the economic crisis.

“I have been in charge of this shop for seven years,” she said, “and I have seen better days.”

Although students interviewed generally expressed satisfaction with the dry cleaners in New Haven, some acknowledged the shortcomings of the business. Berrak Kocaoglu ’10 explained that she has often been discouraged by the high cost of cleaning.

“I would like to have my cashmere and wool sweaters dry cleaned regularly, but there is only one good dry cleaner in New Haven,” Kocaoglu said — Blue Jay Cleaners. “The prices are too high, and there are not many alternatives.”

Cost seems to be a strong deterrent for many students. Robert Li ’10 said that he only used the dry cleaners for his winter coats, and not that often.

“It is kind of expensive,” Li said. “But I cannot think of any alternatives.”

This year, UCS hosted representatives from Microsoft, Goldman Sachs and McKinsey, among many others. Interview season began Jan. 20 and will end March 27.

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